Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups
With the Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups, the Helmholtz Association fosters the early academic independence of its young researchers and offers them secure career prospects. The programme is the only one of its kind in Germany and increases the appeal of the Helmholtz centres among aspiring scientists all over the world. Since funding from the Initiative and Networking Fund began in 2003, 151 young researchers have been accepted on the programme – most of them foreigners or Germans returning from a research appointment abroad. The Young Investigator Groups therefore play an important role in attracting new research talent to come and work in Germany.
The young researchers receive up to €250,000 in funding per year for five years, which allows them to set up and lead their own research group. At the same time, they can take advantage of the excellent infrastructure at the relevant Helmholtz centre and can integrate into a renowned and international working environment. Furthermore, the tenure option offers a long-term career perspective. The programme places particular emphasis on close collaboration with higher education institutes. Young Investigators Group leaders work in cooperation with universities, and are given the change to gain teaching experience and to acquire the qualifications necessary for a university career. An optimal outcome is the joint appointment of the Young Investigators Group leaders to a junior professorship and this has indeed been the case for many of those who have received funding.
A tailored training and mentoring programme has been developed for the young researchers. This gives them the support they need to take on their new leadership responsibilities successfully.
The programme is aimed at young researchers who earned their doctorate about two to six years ago (not including parental leave). The most important selection criterion is the applicant’s expertise in his or her specialist field. German applicants are also generally expected to have spent extended stays abroad.